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Last year, five of my friends, including myself, were all pregnant. It was the first baby for all of them, but I was on my second. The days of their disinterest as I rambled on about the greatest children’s products were now ignited by their own fervour and zest for the latest baby merchandise. I had to smirk as they discussed which video monitor was essential or how the trendy fifteen hundred dollar stroller was about to go on sale. All too often I was read reviews, taken to stores, shown a new gadget or asked to help rationalize an overpriced high chair or bedding more expensive then my own.

If you have kids, I am sure you have spent too much on an adorable outfit, overpaid for a gizmo that claims to do more than it does and shelled out far too much for an unnecessary item. We all do it and it’s what the booming baby business expects from new parents who are unsure about what is needed and what is superfluous. Sifting through the barrage of catalogues, designer children boutiques and of course advice from your own mother may not be as easy as it seems. There are so many other things to think about as the baby is about to arrive. Streamlining it down to the essentials can be difficult!

The Top Ten Things you need to have when you bring baby home:

1) Nothing is scarier than the first time you drive with baby in the car. All those days of speeding and hogging the road are over. In one day you change from speed demon to slow poke. Transporting the little one is the first thing you do when leaving the hospital, so having the right car seat is something you have to think about beforehand. I like the Britax Marathon, suitable for 5lbs to 65 lbs. This car seat easily goes from infant to full grown toddler. My son, now three, had a different car seat until he could reach over and undo the shoulder belt that most car seats graduate to. The Britax’s five-point harness keeps him secure and assures me that he is properly strapped in. Consider it one of your higher priced items, but worth it as it will be used for three to four years.

2) As you enjoy every waking moment with your new baby, you will eventually need to get your rest. Putting baby down in their own crib is often difficult. A popular shower gift is often a Moses basket or bassinette–cute, but baby grows out of them very quickly. I love the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper.

I bought it twice, once for my son that ended up going to Granma’s house, and then again for my new daughter. Built bigger than a bassinet, its ingenious design fits next to your bed, at the same height with only three sides. This enables close contact and the ability to see baby as you rest while safely giving baby the area they need. Perfect for night time breast feeding, it also converts into an amazing playpen and travels superbly in its own carrying case.
3) Establishing the rhythm of nursing often takes time as mom and baby get to know one another. Many hours are spent breast feeding and nothing makes it more difficult than not having the right position or proper angle. The YOU Pillow was designed and made by moms who understand the importance of comfort and proper posture while feeding their little ones. I tried propping a regular pillow under my arms, but it only made it more difficult for baby, and caused neck and shoulder pain for me. The YOU Pillow maintains the unique u-shape needed for breastfeeding while contouring to the body to ensure optimum support for both baby and mom. It has a supreme softness and heavenly feel that both you and baby will love. Made from 100% cotton and available with either a 100% hypo-allergenic polyester fibre or micro-polystyrene bead, this is a hand-made product is made right here in Vancouver.

4) Call me crazy, but the next thing on your list is the Tefal® Ultra-Compact Steamer, a double-decked vegetable steamer priced much less than those chic bottle steamers. With two racks, it easily fits all bottles. Since steam is created at a much higher temperature than boiling water, this is the perfect way to clean and sanitize. Teething rings, soothers, spoons and anything else that end up in baby’s mouth needs just a few minutes in the steamer and it is ready to go. No more pots of boiling water, or melted toys in the dishwasher. You will love this inexpensive way to disinfect that can eventually be used to cook all of baby’s first food to perfection. Can’t get that from a bottle streamer!

5) Knowing the importance of keeping baby close and the value of being hands-free, I have to give Ergo Baby Carrier my highest rating and utmost appreciation.

Having tried other slings, harnesses, and pouches, I like its ergonomic design that supports a correct sitting position for the baby’s hip, pelvis and spine. It also alleviates physical stress for the parent by balancing the weight to parents’ hips and shoulders. A unique infant insert is perfect for the tiniest of babies. Recommend usage is up to 40 lbs, or as long as you and your baby feel comfortable. Made for both front and back carrying this is one item I always have with me. Breast feeding is no problem with a convenient head cover and an ingenious pocket fits my wallet and cell phone perfectly.
6) Not an advocate of unnecessary chemicals on baby’s precious skin, I happily recommend the all-natural, zinc-free BUM BUM BALM® from Dimpleskins Naturals. It is another terrific product made right here in BC. Using coconut oil, organic calendula oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E oil, and pure lavender essential oil, there are fewer things you can find that are safer and work better on your baby’s unexpected diaper rash than this. All of its natural components make it safe for even the most sensitive skin and those using cloth diapers will love that this product does not create a barrier like other traditional diaper creams. Instead, it keeps cloth absorbent so liquids don’t leak out. Make sure to keep one in your diaper bag!

7) Keeping tabs on baby while they sleep is very important. To avoid checking every five minutes, a practical and reliable monitor is very important. If you are in the next room or outside in the garden, I put my trust in The First Years Everywhere Monitor 3998. This first-of-its kind impact resistant monitor keeps you connected to baby anywhere – even in the shower! The rechargeable parent unit includes a charging stand that completely cuts down on wasted batteries. Sound lights, an audible out-of-range indicator, and a low battery indicator provide additional reassurance when you’re away from baby. Not a fan of monitors with alarms or expensive video screens that seldom get watched, this monitor does its job with NO buzzing or annoying feedback. Slightly more expensive than some, this monitor is still going strong in our house after four year of use.

8) Once swaddling ends, using a sleep sac is a reassuring way to make sure baby stays warm and covered while sleeping.

The Agoo 3-in-1 Sleep Sac is a unique design that meets the needs of every season. It has a removable quilt insert for the cold winter months, a lighter fleece layer for fall and spring, and no insert for the warmer summer months. Built larger than most, this sleep sac was used by my son from 5 month until three years old. With snaps up the side and a zipper across the bottom, it opens up completely so you don’t have to wake baby to put them inside. Unlike others, the blanketing is only on the top layer, similar to how you and I sleep, not over-heating baby with added thickness underneath. I like that it keeps baby covered so you don’t have to continually replace blankets, plus the sleep sac means that there is no chance for baby’s face to accidentally get covered during the night. This product actually helped me get some sleep!
To read more please go to: soapboxmama.com

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